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Kosmas Gaining Support in FL 24: It's About Space

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Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, one of three Florida Democrats in Congress that the Republicans would dearly like to defeat, has now picked up endorsements from two of the district's three largest-circulation daily newspapers. And the third daily doesn't count.

In Florida's 24th congressional district, it's all about space. The district includes the Kennedy Space Center and parts of four counties along Florida's Space Coast, extending westward to the outskirts of Orlando. Gerrymandered after the 2000 Census to favor the GOP, Republican Tom Feeney held the district seat from 2002 until Kosmas, a small-business woman, took it from him in 2008.

Both the Orlando Sentinel and Melbourne's Florida Today have given her ringing endorsements, and the third, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, announced this summer it would not be endorsing any candidates.

That's the good news for the Kosmas campaign. The not-so-good: last week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it was canceling plans to spend $650,000 on television ads for her. According to the Sentinel, Republicans said that showed national Democrats are giving up on her; Democrats countered that her campaign has enough money and doesn't need the DCCC's help.

Kosmas is opposed by Sandra "Sandy" Adams, a four-term Florida House member and former deputy sheriff, who has drawn fire for, among other things, advocating repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the one that almost a century ago provided for direct election of U.S. senators by voters. The original Constitution had vested that power in state legislatures.

The Kosmas campaign's first television ad went after Adams on the issue. Whereupon, the Sentinel's Editorial Page Editor, Mike Lafferty, wrote:

"Just try to imagine the arm-twisting and horse-trading that would take place in Tallahassee today if legislators were given back the responsibility of choosing U.S. senators.... The potential for corruption is staggering.... We're better off letting the people pick their U.S. senators. I'd like to keep my vote, thank you very much."

As WFTV's Eric Rasmussen reported, "Even supporters of that idea (letting legislatures elect senators again) admit it's a tough sell."

The Sentinel's endorsement editorial reads in part:

"Ms. Kosmas has been an energetic advocate for the U.S. space program and for her constituents who are losing their jobs as NASA moves ahead with the retire the space shuttle.... She also advanced measures to help develop other industries in her district, including clean energy, to make up for lost space-related jobs."

About her opponent, the editorial said Adams "has been pandering to the anti-government crowd in her party."

(I)t comes down to a choice between a moderate Democrat and a now stridently partisan Republican. No matter which party controls Congress next year, we think Ms. Kosmas is more likely to get things done for her district and for the nation.

Florida Today's endorsement was even more glowing. It mentioned Kosmas' "tireless efforts" to "help craft a solid blueprint for NASA's future."

About Adams, the editorial said her "lack of knowledge about NASA is appalling."

To be fair, the Adams for Congress web site also cites endorsements, although none by news media. They include the Trust in Small Business PAC, a straw poll by the Melbourne East Central Florida Chamber Hob Nob, and the Brevard County Professional Firefighters union local.

If polling is predictive, the momentum appears to be with Kosmas. In late August, Democratic pollster Hamilton Campaigns had Adams ahead by six points, 49-43, and in early September, polling by Public Opinion Strategies, done for the National Republican Congressional Committee, showed Adams up by 12 points, 49 to 37. But by late September, in the most recent polling available on the Internet, Hamilton Campaigns had Kosmas edging ahead, 45-43. And that was before the newspaper endorsements.

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